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• The first documented case, was in 1909 when

Sigmund Freud published his work with “Little
Hans.” Little Hans was a five-year-old child
who was suffering from a simple phobia.
Freud saw him once briefly and recommended
that his father take note of Hans’ play to
provide insights that might assist the child.
The case of “Little Hans” was the first case in
which a child’s difficulty was related to
emotional factors.
• In 1919, Melanie Klein (1955) began to
implement the technique of using play as a
means of analyzing children under the age of six.
She believed that child’s play was essentially the
same as free association used with adults, and
that as such, it was provide access to the child’s
• Anna Freud (1946, 1965) utilized play as a means
to facilitate positive attachment to the therapist
and gain access to the child’s inner life.
• Virginia Axline (1950) expanded on her mentor's
(Carl Rogers 1942) concepts. In her article
entitled ‘Entering the child’s world via play
experiences’ Axline summarized her concept of
play therapy stating, “A play experience is
therapeutic because it provides a secure
relationship between the child and the adult, so
that the child has the freedom and room to state
himself in his own terms, exactly as he is at that
moment in his own way and in his own time”.
• Filial therapy, developed by Bernard and
Louise Guerney, was a new innovation in play
therapy during the 1960s. The filial approach
emphasizes a structured training program for
parents in which they learn how to employ
child-centered play sessions in the home. In
the 1960s, with the advent of school
counselors, school-based play therapy began a
major shift from the private sector.